China / Society

Signs in Chinese would help France attract more visitors

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-04 07:27

China's ambassador to France, Zhai Jun, suggests adding Chinese language to billboards and instructions in tourist attractions every time he is consulted by the French about improving tourist services.

According to Zhai, one of the reasons is that "China soon will become the largest source of travelers" for France outside Europe.

Outside Europe, China was France's second biggest tourist market in 2013 after the United States, with 1.7 million visitors and $681 million of revenue, Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Previously, the instructions at tourist attractions were full of French, English and Japanese. How could the Chinese language be absent?" Zhai said.

Currently the major museums in Paris provide instructions in Chinese, and Zhai said the conditions are still being improved.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said in August last year that "the goal we have set with our Chinese officials is to quickly reach 5 million (Chinese tourists)".

Zhai noted that the French side has responded proactively by offering more convenience to Chinese tourists.

Welcoming 84.1 million tourists in 2014, France confirmed its position as the world's most visited country.

Zhai noted that in the past, the United States and Japan accounted for a major portion of the travelers, while the number of Chinese tourist has surged rapidly in recent years.

The ambassador said that the country faced great security challenges last year, including two deadly terrorist attacks that shocked the world.

"This has dealt heavy blows to the French economy and tourism," he said.

Last year, Beijing worked closely with Paris to make the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris a success.

Zhai said he was impressed last November by the unbeaten French spirit and the country's commitment to hosting such an event after a deadly terrorist attack that killed more than 100.

"The conference was not canceled or even delayed. The hosting efforts continued and more attention was paid to anti-terror and other affairs," he said. "This shows that the country still has a considerable amount of potential. It is capable of pulling itself together quickly after suffering heavy blows," he added.

Although the number of Chinese tourists going to France dropped after the attacks, it was a minor dip compared with other countries, Zhai said.

The ambassador said the services provided by France for Chinese travelers have been improving, while "public security remains an issue" as cases of theft and robbery targeting Chinese travelers have been reported frequently.

Due to the large number of Chinese tourists, the number of such cases is daunting and this indicates "a demanding task for the consular protection staff of our embassy and consulates", Zhai said.

"The image of France will be undermined by the daily reports of robbery. The concerns are there," he said.

Zhai said there are also some things that Chinese travelers could be more careful about.

"For example, the impulse to show off fortune. Many Chinese prefer holding high-end bags in their hands after purchasing them," he said, adding that another bad habit is carrying large amounts of money to pay by cash.

Zhai noted that the French have made progress in boosting public security, including increasing cameras to monitor downtown areas and strengthening police patrols.

But he thinks major improvement will not be achieved overnight because of the quickly rising number of Chinese tourists.

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